YANGON, MYANMAR - The ruling junta in Myanmar announced Saturday that the resistance government, made up of deposed deputies who went underground, was now on the list of "terrorist organizations."
Some of these deputies, including many members of the National League for Democracy (LND) of Aung San Suu Kyi, ousted from power by the coup of February 1, formed a "government of national unity" (NUG) to resist the junta.
On Wednesday, this underground resistance government announced the establishment of its own defense force intended to fight against the regime of the generals and to protect civilians against the repression orchestrated by the military.
On Saturday evening, state television announced that this "people's defense force" as well as a group called the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Representative Committee (CRPH), the Burmese term for parliament, were now on the list of "terrorist organizations."
"We ask the people not to ... support terrorist actions, nor to provide aid to the terrorist activities of the NUG and the CRPH, which threaten the security of the people," state television said.
Previously, the junta had declared NUG and the CRPH "illegal associations" and said that entering into contact with these organizations amounted to high treason.
But this new classification as a "terrorist organization" means that anyone who communicates with its members, including journalists, could be prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws.
The Arakan Army, an insurgent group that clashed with the Myanmar military in Rakhine state, was classified as a terrorist organization in 2020. A journalist who interviewed an official of this organization was arrested.
Although he was released soon afterward, the use of anti-terrorism legislation to prosecute journalists raised fears of yet another turn of the screw on the press.
Dozens of journalists were arrested after the coup, media were shut down and television channels were stripped of their licenses, resulting in a veritable news blackout for Burma, which is another term for Myanmar.
The NUG hopes to eventually form a "federal unity army" that would bring together dissidents and ethnic rebel factions opposed to the junta.
From cities to the most remote rural areas, Myanmar has been in turmoil since the putsch.
In the face of protests, the repression has been bloody. Nearly 800 civilians have been killed by security forces since the February 1 coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).